While LTE is frequently marketed as 4G LTE, it technically doesn’t meet the criteria of a 4G wireless service set by the ITU Radiocommunications Sector (ITU-R). ITU-R is a unit of the International Telecommunication Union, and it’s responsible for developing the communications standards, such as 4G. According to ITU-R, a true 4G network delivers peak data transmission speeds of at least 100Mbps in motion and at least 1Gbps while stationary.
Have you ever wondered what the LTE icon on your smartphone means? It’s one among the various wireless communication protocols available. But what exactly is LTE, and how does it vary from 5G? Long Term Evolution, or LTE, is a 4G wireless broadband standard that allows mobile carriers to provide data and voice services to their customers. It has a lower latency and better internet speeds than 3G. As a result, you may watch films, play games, and send large amounts of data all from the palm of your hand. Smartphones and mobile hotspots are the main users of LTE. However, the technology may be found on various smartwatches, tablets, laptops, and other gadgets.
Fortunately, both LTE Advanced and LTE Advanced Pro are backward compatible, and regular LTE devices can work with these networks. But, unfortunately, you won’t get the enhanced benefits. Many LTE networks around the world have already been upgraded to LTE Advanced. And it’s represented by LTE+, 4G+, or LTE-A symbols on your phone, instead of the usual LTE or 4G. Cellular standards have traditionally used both circuit-switching and packet-switching networks to provide voice and data services to their consumers. While a circuit-switching network establishes a dedicated connection to the person on the other end and keeps the connection until a call is completed, a packet-switching network, on the other hand, uses data packets to transmit information from one device to another over a digital network. These data packets are free to take the path of least resistance to reach their destination and don’t need a dedicated line.
However, when mobile carriers could not achieve these speeds, ITU-R relaxed the requirements so that LTE could be marketed as a 4G technology. ITU-R said that any wireless technology that provides “a substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities” over the initial 3G network could also be considered 4G. LTE Advanced and LTE Advanced Pro are improved versions of the LTE standard and are capable of providing even faster internet speeds. Theoretically, LTE Advanced can deliver a peak data download rate of 1Gbps, and Advanced Pro can reach up to 3Gbps. As a result, both LTE Advanced and Advanced Pro meet the technical requirements for true 4G.
Unlike 2G and 3G technologies, LTE uses an entirely packet-switching network. As a result, there is no circuit-switching for placing voice calls. Instead, VoLTE or voice-over LTE is used to handle voice calls. That said, LTE supports the circuit-switched fallback (CSFB) option to allow voice calls through existing 3G and 2G networks when a phone doesn’t support VoLTE or LTE isn’t available. In fact, during the early LTE implementations, carriers frequently used CSFB. But VoLTE is quite common now.